Insight: A Letter to My Middle School Self

By Marta Picoto, Trustee & EPS Class of 2014

Dear Middle School Marta,

At this point, you imagine 25-year-old Marta as a fourth-year medical student on her way to becoming “Dr. Picoto.” Funny enough, she is in school to become a doctor, just not the kind you think. The 25-year-old Marta learned that her passion for medicine was founded in her love for problem-solving and helping others, not so much in the science itself. In your senior year of college, it will seem like the world is falling apart when you change your life path from medicine to psychology, but it will be okay. You will take a gap year post-graduation to work with neurodiverse children and fall in love with empowering others to be the best versions of themselves. And that, my friend, is just as important as diagnosing and treating diseases.

But before the long nights in the library at Whitman College reading your organic chemistry textbooks and two years of graduate school on Zoom (No—Zoom is not a university, but I’ll leave it at that for now), you will excel in your studies in Middle School and Upper School. Will it always be necessary to write over the page limit? No—A+’s aren’t a thing in real life. In 8th grade, you’ll go on a five-day backpacking trip with your class, and upon returning home from this arduous and tiring journey, you’ll be inclined to do next week’s homework. Instead, I recommend taking a nap. You’ll never be a big nap person, but it’s times like this where you should make an exception.

In Upper School, you’ll test the limits of how many extra-curricular activities one person can do. High school Marta will be a peer mentor, an actress, an ultimate frisbee player, and a student government class representative. College Marta, on the other hand, will find 8:00 AM classes unbearable. Yet, she will graduate with honors in psychology, with great friends and sweet memories of her time in a sorority she never intended on joining. Bottom line—try new things, hard things, and many things—you won’t regret it, you’ll only thank yourself.

In your senior year of Upper School, you’ll be told that you don’t have a “forte.” You’ll feel like your hard work wasn’t enough and like your “well-roundedness” is a flaw. Well, I am here to tell you that your “forte” is your ability to persevere, to pick up new skills quickly, to make friends, to listen, to relate to others, and never to stay down. Right now, you’re clutching on to the American Girl Doll book, “The Smart Girl’s Guide to Starting Middle School,” preparing for the inevitable hardships of middle school, from pimples to boys and complex friendships. However, what this tiny book doesn’t tell you, is that you don’t need Ugg boots, a Hollister t-shirt, and a flashy headband to be happy. Confidence and self-love come from embracing your differences, following your passions, and listening to your mom—trust me, she’s always right.


25-year-old Marta